Speak Up for Just War or Pacifism

This searching critique of the United Methodist Bishops pastoral letter on war and peace in a nuclear age, by America s foremost Christian ethicist, exposes theological flaws from which flow gaps in moral argument and strangely utopian politics. Never before has “In Defense of Creation” been more thoroughly analyzed.
At the same time Paul Ramsey gives a full-length and detailed comparison of the Methodist document with “The Challenge of Peace” by the U.S. Catholic Bishops. Issues of nuclear ethics, as seen by the leaders of two major churches, are set fully in view for the first time in a single volume.
This “ecumenical consultation” is broadened by drawing extensively on the writings of Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder. The book’s larger purpose is to construe an encounter between Christian just-war tradition and Christian pacifism. This comparative discussion of Christian ethics should be of interest to any reader concerned about the nuclear crisis.
Some of the questions confronted in these pages are: What do people mean by “nonviolence”? Should we never kill another human being, or never kill another human being unjustly? Do Christian pacifism and Christian just-war teachings have anything in common in their understanding of the Christian moral life? Do different interpretations of the person and work of Jesus Christ give rise to Christian pacifism and to just-war participation? Are these irreducibly different options equally valid for followers of Christ? Do the tests of discrimination and proportion lead to the same prohibitions on war and limits in war in a nuclear age?
With an epilogue by Stanley Hauerwas, this volume offers the unusual event of two Methodist laymen engaged in lively debate over their church and the modern world.